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Thursday 22 August 2019

'Year on the line' as Dublin D-Day looms

Crummey on Galway duel: 'If we play to our best there's no reason why we won't win'

Chris Crummey of Dublin in action against Carlow during the Leinster SHC match at Netwatch Cullen Park
Chris Crummey of Dublin in action against Carlow during the Leinster SHC match at Netwatch Cullen Park

Fortress Parnell. It has been called that many times before - and Chris Crummey has no doubt that the claustrophobic surrounds of their Donnycarney home can prove a priceless advantage for the Dublin hurlers against Galway on Saturday week.

More to the point, Crummey is confident enough to predict that, if Dublin perform, Dublin will win. End of.

"Ask of the lads, we really love playing there," the Dublin captain stressed, speaking after their 12-point victory in Carlow kept them firmly in the hunt to reach the All-Ireland SHC series.

"We have made it a fortress. We'd a great win against Waterford (in the league). Wexford the other day, we probably should have won but it was still a good performance for 50-60 minutes.

"Parnell probably brings the best out of us, the crowd really gets (behind us) and it's definitely an advantage. And we're really just looking forward to two weeks' time because we really feel that if we play to our best, like, there's no reason why we won't win."

Sole focus

Crummey makes no attempt to downplay the importance of June 15. "Our year is on the line and we know that if we win this game we're through," he declared. "That's our sole focus now. Hopefully there'll be a packed Parnell, like the Wexford game, and we can really put in a performance."

The arithmetic of the Leinster round-robin group, right now, offers a fascinating contrast with the 'Tipp versus all the rest' landscape in Munster.

It could also get very complicated, depending on results this weekend during Dublin's 'rest' week. Here's how: if Wexford beat Carlow (as expected) and Galway minus Joe Canning conjure up a victory in Kilkenny, then the surreal prospect of a four-way tie emerges if Dublin defeat Galway and Wexford draw with Kilkenny on Saturday week.

A long shot, perhaps - but not entirely implausible. In that scenario, with four teams deadlocked on five points, it would come down to scoring difference to decide the two Leinster finalists, who finishes third - and who is out.

The probability, though, is that a Dublin win would suffice. It's a welcome contrast to last year, when they were already out of top-three contention before they even played Offaly to safeguard their top-tier status, and then travelled to Salthill for a dead-rubber. "Playing Galway was a bit of an anti-climax. Obviously we were delighted beating Offaly to stay up, but this is totally different," said Crummey.

"Getting that goal at the end against Wexford meant it's still in our hands, and we had to get the job done (against Carlow) which we did.

"But it's only halfway. Our complete focus now is two weeks' time against Galway. Whatever happens in other results, we can't control. But if we beat Galway we know we're still in the hat in the All-Ireland series ... we just have to take care of business in Parnell Park.

"Against Galway last year there was nothing between us. We played them in the Walsh Cup (last January) - I think there was a point in it. We just have to make sure we're on the right side of that result in two weeks."

The one negative is Galway's recent head-to-head against Dublin: they edged that Walsh Cup semi-final by 0-21 to 1-17; and won easily by 0-20 to 1-11 in the league at Pearse Stadium.

Countering that, Dublin won all three Parnell Park league dates this year, and then drew with Wexford a fortnight ago. And while they lost to Galway there in last year's league, their two previous Donnycarney duels (in the 2015 and '16 leagues) delivered Dublin victories.

Familiarity

"We train there. We play our club matches there. So, definitely, the whole surroundings and familiarity probably help," Crummey maintained. "You look at most teams, the home games are crucial and definitely it's important for us."

If Dublin are to advance, there will be no disguising the watershed moment: Seán Moran's late, late goal from a free to secure parity against Wexford.

"Ask any team, you probably need a bit of luck when it comes to the last few minutes. The margins are so small, and we probably haven't got that the last few games - partially down to ourselves," the skipper accepted.

"But definitely we showed great heart and resilience in the last five minutes, when things were going against us, to snatch a draw. It probably is a turning point in our season, that's what we firmly believe, and we just need to take advantage of that now against Galway."

Will Mattie Kenny's Galway insight help? "Absolutely. I think Mattie and the lads have a great knowledge of every team. And we've played Galway so many times now, between league, Walsh Cup and championship the last few years ... I'd say the players know them as well as the management do at this stage."

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